In brief - Repeal of exemptions will facilitate broad use of e-contracts

All nine Australian Real Estate Institutes have, in a single submission to all nine Australian Attorneys-General, called for the reform of Commonwealth, state and territory electronic transactions legislation to enable contracts for sale of land and other property-related documents to be created via on-line forms (e-contracts) that are safe and simple to understand and use.

Exemptions obstruct development of property industry e-contracts

I co-ordinated this single joint submission together with Tim McKibbin, CEO of the Real Estate Institute of New South Wales. We lodged the submission in November 2015 to all Australian governments.

Specifically, we seek the repeal of electronic transactions provisions (called "exemptions") which are confusing the procedure that should be followed if:
  • an e-contract needs to be signed by a company
  • a signature needs to be witnessed
  • an e-contract relates to a land transaction (South Australia only)
These exemptions are obstructing the development of consumer friendly e-contracts for most property-related transactions, including land sale contracts, sales agency agreements, residential and retail lease agreements and property management agreements.

The exemptions have created uncertainty and confusion as to what procedures should govern property industry e-contract transactions, and have, as a result, seriously delayed the development of property industry e-contracts that a consumer can easily access by computer and are safe and simple to understand and use.

Reforms should address unintended consequences within regulations

"The submission represented a landmark gathering of all Australian Real Estate Institutes", said Mr McKibbin. "We all recognise the importance of removing the barrier to widespread use of e-contracts and call for changes to Commonwealth, state and territory legislation to address unintended consequences within the regulations."

Since lodging the submission, I have continued to follow up with the various Attorneys-General, and I am currently engaged with REISA and REINSW in direct dealings with the SA and NSW Attorneys-General.

This is commentary published by Colin Biggers & Paisley for general information purposes only. This should not be relied on as specific advice. You should seek your own legal and other advice for any question, or for any specific situation or proposal, before making any final decision. The content also is subject to change. A person listed may not be admitted as a lawyer in all States and Territories. © Colin Biggers & Paisley, Australia 2024.

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